DETROIT — For the third time in the past three years, General Motors has asked the U.S. government for permission to avoid recalls of potentially deadly Takata air bag inflators.
The company disclosed its third petition to escape the recalls on Tuesday in a filing with securities regulators. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lets GM out of the recalls, the company says it could save $1 billion and avoid recalling up to 6.8 million full-size pickup trucks and SUVs from the 2007 to 2011 model years.
Takata inflators can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 22 people have been killed worldwide and more than 180 injured. The problem forced the Japanese company into bankruptcy protection and touched off the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history.
In a Jan. 9 filing with NHTSA, GM says the front-passenger inflators were custom-made for its trucks by Takata with bigger vents and stronger steel end caps than other inflators. No truck inflators have blown apart on roads or in extensive laboratory testing, the company says.
GM filed petitions seeking to avoid the recalls in November 2016 and in January 2017, but NHTSA has yet to rule on them.